low tuition universities in france for international students

9 Cheapest Universities in France for International Students

France is a country that is considered to be an international hub for its artistic, cultural, and scientific significance. It is reputed for its iconic French way of life, aesthetically pleasing cities, iconic architecture, and especially tantalizing cuisine.

To this end, France caters to any kind of international – in terms of the environment, the country offers a range from busy urban cities to quiet and calmer villages and towns to sunny beaches and charming mountainous regions. Its location in the center of Europe further provides excellent transport links to other major cities and countries surrounding it.

The education system of France is considered to be among the finest and best in Europe after the United Kingdom. Multiple universities in the country have been consistently ranked among the top universities in the world league tables and have further produced world-class graduates and alumni.

Added to this, French universities offer very modest tuition fees which are an added advantage to prospective students. (Just a note: there are many universities that are completely free in Europe. If interested, check Free Universities in Europe for International Students,).

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that up to 90% of international students choose to opt for France as a study abroad destination due to these very tempting reasons.

In addition to the high standards of academic education offered by the universities, students have access to a life-changing educational experience, be it in terms of world-famous museums and stunning sites to globally recognized cuisine and cultural aesthetics at anyone’s doorstep. In this article, we present a series of cheap universities in France. This will hopefully give you an idea of the finances and funding that go into studying in this iconic country.

What are some of the most popular degrees in France for International Students?

France is home to many excellent degree programs. For international students, these are the most popular courses:

How do I study in France as an International Student?

The application process in French universities can be very daunting. To help you with the process, we wrote a detailed guide on How to Study in France for International Students. If you are interested, check it out.

How much does it cost to study at a university in France?

In terms of tuition fees, the costs can range from around EUR 180 to 15,000 in total, which largely depends on the university. When considering the costs of living, this will depend on the student’s lifestyle and the location of the university. Large cities like Paris range from EUR 1200 to 1800 per month while areas in Lyons/Bordeaux or Toulouse can be as low as EUR 600 per month.

Do I have to learn French to study?

French is considered to be the primary language of instruction with teaching activities. However, with the constant increase in international students who arrive in the country, there are now hundreds of different courses that are taught and administered in English across a majority of French universities. If you are wanting to learn in English, you will need to have English proficiency exam results such as the IELTS or TOEFL.

To this end, learning French is not a major prerequisite. However, if you are enrolling in a French-taught course, proficiency in the language is compulsory.

Are there any opportunities to have a free education in France?

Unfortunately, French universities have tuition fees for international students. However, there are actually ways that you can finance your education, and we cover all the different ways in How to Study in France for Free (Complete Guide). Check out this great resource!

Affordable Universities

Here are some of the countries that are affordable to international students.

Cheap Universities in France

1. University of Paris

The University of Paris is a public university that was founded through a merger between the Paris Descartes and the Paris Diderot Universities. Founded in 2019, this cheap university in France is an institution that is committed to scientific, cultural, and professional applications through education.

The university currently offers degrees to a student population of over 50,000. It also maintains a strong research profile, overseeing over 10 different institutes and 87 laboratories while also maintaining collaborations with multiple foreign and national universities.

The university aims to conduct and provide education and research related to science at a high standard. The top programs at the University of Paris are Business and Nursing.

2. University of Orleans

The Université d’Orleans is a public research university that is based in the city of Orleans in Northwestern France. Its history dates back to the early 14th century although the current university gained its status only in 1960. So theoretically, this makes the University of Orleans one of the oldest universities in the country.

The university manages and provides a range of academic programs including Law, Management, Economics, Linguistics, Social Sciences, Classical Languages, Natural Sciences, Life Sciences, and Mathematics.

Collectively, the university has grown to become a national hub and an influential center for learning throughout the century. It is ranked among the top 100 universities in France. It is an original member of the Leonardo da Vinci Association of Institutions in the country too.

3. University de Montpelier

Founded in 1289, the University of Montpellier is classified as the oldest university in the country. Located in the southeastern city of Montpellier, the university underwent a split into 3 different universities before it was merged back into its original status in 2015. Currently, the university has a student enrolment of over 41,000 in total.

Academically, this one of the cheapest universities in France is comprised of 7 major departments including Law, Economics, Pharmacy, Medicine, Odontology, Exercise Science and Business Administration. These departments enable the university to provide over 100 different courses and degrees of study for the students. Fields such as Law and Ecological Studies are among the most highly ranked in the country.

Research institutes are cutting-edge and an essential core of the university’s presence in the country and regularly contribute to the economy of the region. The university has further been ranked among the top 50 most innovative universities in the world.

4. University of Strasbourg

The University of Strasbourg is a public research university located in the city of Strasbourg in France. With a student population of over 55,000 and around 3300 researchers working at the university, it is among the largest institutions of higher education in the country.

This was after the university underwent a merger with 3 other minor universities. As of 2019, the university has been associated with approximately 20 Nobel Laureates and 2 Field medallists. It is also a member of the League of European Research Universities for its high contributions to research.

It is also one of the most international universities in the region; approximately 20% of the student population consists of foreign students who come from over 150 different countries in the world for their studies. As a result, the city is one of the most popular destinations for study abroad students.

5. University of Burgundy

The University of Burgundy is another public university located in the eastern region of Dijon in France. Founded in 1722, the university currently provides student education for over 30,000, of which approximately 10% are international students coming from around 100 different countries.

The main campus of this cheap university in France is located just outside the city of Dijon with the majority of the academic faculties located in the region.

The university is academically comprised of around 10 major faculties along with 3 institutes of technology, 4 engineering schools, and institutes of education. The university’s primary Institute of Technology also offers higher-level diplomas and short-term courses across a wide array of disciplines.

International students also have access to the CIEF, a center for learning the French language which helps them to develop their proficiency in the language during the course of their studies.

Additionally, it is classified to be one of the top universities in France to offer plenty of support as well as a diverse student life for international and disabled students.

6. École Normale Supérieure (Paris)

The Ecole Normale Superieure of Paris (or ENS Paris) is a graduate university based in the capital of Paris. It is known to be the most influential and selective institution of higher education in the region and possibly the country.

The university was founded in the early 18th century and currently has over 2500 students studying its degrees. It has received particular recognition in the fields of physics and mathematics with an exceedingly high proportion of Nobel Laureates and Field Medallists.

Academically, the university is divided into the ‘Letters’ section which oversees the arts, social and human sciences and subsequently includes 8 sub-departments. Its second division is the ‘Sciences’ section that manages the natural and mathematical sciences section and includes 7 sub-departments. Student classes are small, seeing as the university has one of the lowest student enrolments in the country due to its increasing selectivity in admissions.

7. École Centrale de Lyon

Based in the iconic region of Lyon, the Ecole Centrale de Lyon is a research institution that was founded in 1857. It is one of the oldest graduate schools in the country and is a member of the Grandes Ecoles of France, a group committed to providing high-quality education in science, engineering, business education, and research.

The most reputed and highly ranked fields in the university are those of biosciences, acoustic technology, and nanotechnology. The student population numbers around 1300+ in total and students have access to an educational experience that is focused on training highly skilled graduates with a strong focus on applied science.

This cheap university in France for international students further maintains very strong links with other world-class institutions across the world, including the likes of the Darmstadt Institute of Technology in Germany and the Imperial College of London.

8. Sciences Po

The Sciences Po (or the Paris Institute of Political Studies) is a prestigious institution of higher education located primarily in Paris, with additional campuses in other regions of the country. The institution has a student population of over 14,000 students. These areas include Reims, Dijon, Poitiers and Le Havre.

Academically, the university is comprised of the Undergraduate College and 7 Graduate Schools (which are similar to faculties and oversee fields such as Law, Public Affairs, International Affairs, and Journalism. The undergraduate college offers a range of degrees with a multidisciplinary basis as well as dual degrees in collaboration with partner institutions across the world.

In terms of research, Sciences Po has a thriving community and is connected to cutting-edge research in the fields of economics, political science, sociology, and history.

9. École Polytechnique

Ecole Polytechnique is another public institution of higher education. Founded in 1794, it is a member of the Grandes Ecole network and is committed to providing quality education in the field of engineering.

With a student population of over 3500, the university is most reputed for its iconic ‘polytechnic engineer’ program; it includes significantly broader training as opposed to the majority of public universities in the country and focuses on providing a more widespread learning experience.

Additionally, numerous Masters and doctoral programs are offered to the students as well. These programs at this cheap university in France tend to be linked and administered in collaboration with other universities in the Grandes Ecole Network.

With its high standards of academics, it comes as no surprise that, internationally, the university has gained a strong academic reputation and it is ranked among the top 100 universities in the world.

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